OIA Celebrates Introduction of Outerwear Act in U.S. Senate

Legislation to Eliminate Tariffs on Recreational Performance Outerwear and Invest in Sustainable Manufacturing Technology and U.S. Jobs Introduced by Salazar, Crapo
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Legislation to Eliminate Tariffs on Recreational Performance Outerwear and Invest in Sustainable Manufacturing Technology and U.S. Jobs Introduced by Salazar, Crapo

Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) celebrated the introduction of the Recreational Performance Outerwear Apparel Act of 2008 (S. 3439) in the United States Senate. The bill was introduced by Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), both members of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over trade related legislation. The bill is a Senate companion to H.R. 6483, the House version of the bill that was introduced last month by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

"The outdoor industry is an economic engine in my state of Colorado,” commented Senator Salazar. “In addition to the thousands of Coloradans every year who enjoy hiking, climbing, hunting, and other outdoor activities, the outdoor industry supports over 100,000 jobs in the state and is a vital part of Colorado's economy. Eliminating these excessive tariffs will help this industry thrive in Colorado and will make high performance products more affordable for consumers."

Senator Crapo added,”Getting outside for recreation is also good for the health and spirit. The availability of affordable recreational performance outerwear is a central part of ensuring that more people can benefit from exploring our nation's vast natural resources.”

OIA was instrumental in developing the first-ever trade legislation specifically for outdoor performance apparel manufacturers that creates new tariff classifications for specific types of recreational performance outerwear, makes those specific products duty free and invests in U.S. technologies and jobs that focus on sustainable, environmentally-conscious manufacturing and streamlined supply chains.

The OIA Government Affairs team has spent two years working on this important legislation on behalf of the outdoor industry. The high tariffs in question have remained unchanged for decades, despite significant technological advances in performance outerwear manufacturing. For example, high-tech ski pants are currently classified in the same general category as polyester dress slacks and high-performance jackets are taxed in the same category as generic windbreakers. A July, 2007 report by the International Trade Commission (ITC) found there is no commercially viable production of recreational performance outerwear in the United States, highlighting the need for legislation to correct what amounts to a regressive tax on outdoor industry businesses.

“Active outdoor recreation generates $289 billion annually in retail sales and services across the U.S. every year and supports more than 6 million jobs across the country,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, OIA president. “And with more than three quarters of Americans participating in outdoor recreation, the Recreational Performance Outerwear Apparel Act encourages a healthy and vibrant outdoor industry.”

The legislation is an ‘everybody wins' proposition: Outdoor apparel manufacturers receive appropriate and needed relief from outdated, excessively high tariffs; U.S. textile firms shipping inputs for outerwear production in NAFTA and CAFTA countries are protected; American consumers gain access to more affordable outdoor products; and everybody wins through the investment in U.S. technology that enables sustainable business practices here at home and around the world.

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About Outdoor Industry Association
Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) is a national trade association whose mission is to ensure the growth and success of the outdoor industry. OIA provides trade services for over 4000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives and retailers in the outdoor industry. OIA programs include representation in government/legislative affairs, market and social research, business-to-business services and youth outreach initiatives. Educational events include the annual Rendezvous™, Outdoor University®, and the Capitol Summit. Outdoor Industry Association is based in Boulder, Colorado, and is the title sponsor of the Outdoor Retailer tradeshows. For more information go to http://www.outdoorindustry.org or call 303.444.3353.

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